Ningamma

by Guruprasad

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March 2005.
Karnataka transport dept hires Ningamma as it’s first woman bus driver.
http://www.hinduonnet.com/2005/03/09/stories/2005030902590300.htm

India was once envied upon for it’s gender equality where women were treated with utmost dignity. This has been mentioned not only in our ancient scriptures but also in foreign documents like those written by Hieun Tsang from China.
Even till 1500 AD, women were as equal as men in India. But something happened after that. For the last 500 years, women were denied equality. Maybe due to Mughal invasion or maybe due to British strategy.

But things are changing in the past few decades. The constitution of India stated equality in 1950 but practically it took more time for this equality to be implemented. Things did not happen overnight. There were social activists and common people who fought for their rights, demonstrated their capability that they are no lesser than men.

As a result of it, today we can see women in professions which were at one point of time considered sole ownership of men.
Today, we have women in almost all professions and this photo of KSRTC appointing woman driver is an example of it.

Doesnt she look like Sudha Murthy? :)

Talking about Sudha Murthy (Wife of Infosys Narayana Murthy), I feel she might have played a significant role in demanding women’s rights and demonstrating such capabilities. Let me share a small story about her which is relevant in this context.

While studying her masters at IISc, Sudha came across a job requirement ad from TELCO (now Tata Motors) calling for young, intelligent graduates with excellent academic record. She had all the mentioned qualities. But when she read the last line which said “Lady candidates need not apply”, she was enraged and felt discriminated.
So she wrote a letter to JRD Tata demanding why such a prestigeous company like Tata has still not come out of clutches like gender discrimination. Within days, she got a telegram asking her to attend the interview at Pune with the travel expenses borne by company. During the interview, she answered all the questions correctly and the panel was impressed. But the panel tried to convince her saying the job requirement is for factory shop floor and they dont have confidence in ladies and they had never hired ladies for such jobs before and offered her a desk job instead.
But Sudha was very bold and replied saying they have to start somewhere, otherwise no woman will be able to work in factories ever. Finally, after lots of internal discussions among panel members, she was offered the job. She worked there for few years and performed better than her male counterparts. Due to this, Tatas started getting more confidence and hired more females into their factories. Maybe that started a ripple in the industry and gradually women were given such jobs and responsibilities in male dominated industries.

Maybe the reason for Ningamma (in this photo) getting a job in KSRTC traces back its roots to Sudha Murthy’s bold attitude of demanding for women’s rights in male dominated jobs.

Talking about professional ladies, flight attendants also come to our mind. Lots of readers have been asking me to continue the Air India story and reveal details about who were the business tycoons who fell in love with flight attendants. I will definitely post that story tomorrow :)

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